Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Affected or Affectionate

For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:8

I get a kick out of being startled by the Word of God.

Recently Philippians chapter one jumped into my attention space. I began returning to the selection fairly regularly to digest again and listen to the Spirit. This morning, I noticed the verse above and checked the meaning in the Greek of affection.

The kick was in the gut--literally as the word means bowels. Well, that's the first definition. The third statement describing connotations of the one meaning is a heart in which mercy dwells.

I tend to think of affection as a physical manifestation of tender feelings. This is, of course, the show of affection. Yet, the word as used indicates to me an acknowledgement by Paul that his affective domain, the realm of his emotional being, is tender and full of mercy toward the Philippians, and that he ascribes this state to Jesus. He is not saying he can't wait to be hugging on them, though if with them most likely would express what he feels in that way.

Further, since (according to Strong) the Hebrews regarded the bowels as the seat of the more tender emotions of kindness and mercy, I was struck by the very limited way I have understood affection. I have defined affection as an act. Paul here uses the word to state the condition of his inner-being.

It causes me to question: When will our devotion to Christ, our abiding in Him become so real to us that we are released within to the freedom and authority of a gut level sense of mercy toward one another within the Body of Christ? When will we abandon ourselves to one another emotionally far beyond the affected, obligatory cultural construct of showing physically something we believe ideally perhaps, but do not fully emotionally embrace because of fear or pride?

We modern Christians live in a world where the headlines about predatory priests are but one of the fearsome depravities with which humanity is afflicted. Have we let the world around us hollow our guts of the tenderness which is Christ's mercy? If there were more affection, more depth of the feeling of it within our God-families, would some who have been of the faith but fallen into depravity been equipped by the emotional sustenance flowing from those with whom she or he walked, such that the lure of lust could not have masqueraded as a desirable end?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

So What?

If society as we know it collapses, so what?

We ought ot understand and be comfortable meeting in our homes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Endless Steppe

Have you ever read the book entitled The Endless Steppe? Probably not. Though it is a bit similar to Anne Frank's Dairy, (young Jewish girl recounting how WW2 affected her) it is not nearly as widely read. The book is written for readers roughly 12 to 15. In it, young Esther is the only daughter of a wealthy Jewish family living in Vilna, Poland. WW2 is raging, yet she is in Poland occupied by the Soviet Union, and the war stops at her garden gate. That is until her family's wealth is confiscated, and they are relocated to Siberia for the crime of capitalism.

The story then follows her journey barely surviving Siberian winters until what remains of her family is allowed to return to Vilna after the war: happier ending than Anne's but an equally compelling read.

For my purpose here, I will place The Endless Steppe alongside Gone with the Wind. I do this because of one similarity the books share, though Esther's true story is moving and not nearly the soap opera as that of the fictional Scarlett. What do these books have in common? The collapse of a social order in which the wealthy are stripped of their power and prestige radically and rapidly.

Think of the Romanovs, the last ruling family of Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution. How startling to find one's self at the center of tradition, heritage of family and state, and believing that you are fully within God's will living life as it is has always been known for generations. (Esther in Steppe did not address the God angle so much as I recall--read the book forty years ago now--but it is easily inferred as a complicating factor for the emotions of her family who are Jewish.)

Are we as American Christians prepared for what lies ahead of us? I am not so much addressing this from an eschatalogical viewpoint as I am simply extrapolating the consequences of a bankrupt US government.

I am not one to write about politics, so don't read that last sentence as a political statement. It is more economic and sociological. What will become of society as we know it, if our government's debt is called in by those lending to us and we cannot pay? Have we assumed the US Constitution faced no real threat of abbrogation or that our society would endure as it is now long past our short lives?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kindness oils new friendships and glues old ones.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Digging Out

I am beginning to see a break in the "busy" clouds raining on my blog parade.

No essay here, but thought I would leave a short message:

The Christian walk is full of surprises we cannot imagine but none we need fear.